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Changing Tzedakah Recipient


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 4, 5777
Hello there! I hope this message finds you well. For a long time I have been giving my Ma’aser to my first cousin, who is a Rabbi and a Talmid Chacham. However, recently there have been a number of incidents with him in which he either disrespected me or my family, culminating in one in which he literally was Malbin Panim my father in front of the whole synagogue. I have been giving him this Tzedakah primarily because I am familiar with the Halachic obligation to give to a family member Talmid Chacham before anyone else. I would like to know if I can start giving my Ma’aser to another Talmid Chacham that is not in my family, or to a Jewish learning institution, etc. My parents are also in difficult financial straits but at this point my finances are still bound up with theirs to some degree so I don’t think they would qualify as a valid source to give Tzedakah to (they still pay for my medical bills and I’m living with them for the summer, where they feed me and provide me free lodging). In sum - can I stop giving Ma’aser to my cousin even though he’s the only Talmid Chacham in my family? And if so, must I give it to another relative, or can I give it to a Jewish institution or unrelated Talmid Chacham? Thank you so much! Jacob
ב"ה Shalom, I am not taking a side here, and I can imagine the hurt you feel after what was done to your father, but especially in the spirit of the 9 days, I feel it is appropriate to find a way of reconciliation. In regard to your question, there are those who view giving tzedaka to the same person a few times as a neder, no less than any other good action that a person took upon himself. ( (שו"ת חבל נחלתו חלק ו , סימן כטIn view of this, you will have to go to a Rabbi to find a way to annul the neder and he will tell you the rest. Nonetheless, I will present some of the issued which have to be addressed. Since, this is a neder for giving Tzedaka,it is not viewed favorably to annul it. ((שו"ת הרדב"ז ח"ד סי' קלד However, many poskim say, such a neder can be annulled since it is not that you want discontinue giving, it is just that you want to give to somebody else. In addition, others allow it if it is more difficult for the donor financially. (בשו"ת רב פעלים (ח"א יו"ד סי' מד) , בתשובת שואל ונשאל (ח"א יו"ד סי' קפג), שו׳ת מהרש״ם ח״ג סו״ס קיט , וראה עוד בספר "כל נדרי" לרב יצחק שטסמן, פרק סא:יט) In view of this, it is allowed to give to another Talmid chacham. Also, in the future it is suggested that you act of giving to a certain person should be proceeded by a "bli neder" .השולחן ערוך (יו"ד סי' ריד ס"א) So, to sum up: Regardless of how you proceed with your Tzedkah, an apology should be sought so that there be Shalom in the family, and then you must consult your local Rabbi how to invalidate your previous undertaking. All the best
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